Bananas Foster Tart Tatin

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My mom and dad got me an awesome tart tatin pan for my birthday this year and I couldn’t wait to use it.  I had a recipe from Martha Stewart saved on my phone for the longest time and hadn’t gotten around to making it, but when I received this pan in the mail and looked at my five mysteriously mushy bananas on my counter, I knew what had to be done.  Okay, so the mysteriously mushy bananas – I bought a perfectly yellow, no bruise bunch that were on the top of the pile, and a day later, I went to cut up one for Olive and they felt like bags full of jelly.  ALL OF THEM.  Still perfectly yellow, still no bruises, but all mush.  What in the world?!  I thought maybe since I’d put them beside tomatoes, that maybe the gasses from the tomatoes instantly ripened the bananas?  So a day later, I bought another bunch and put one banana with the tomatoes and the rest far away from them and the banana that was with the tomatoes was fine.  So, the mystery remains.  Maybe they were on the bottom of the truck since they were on the top of the pile!

Despite their mushy texture, the bananas worked out perfectly for this recipe and I was glad to be able to use them.  The French love their tart tatins.  They basically do it with every fruit in season.  And my theory is that the French use fancy terms to make ordinary dishes sound fancy.  Like tartines.  Tartines are various toppings on toast.  That’s it.  Some might call it bruschetta, some call it toast.  It’s all the same.  Or how about this tart tatin?  Yeah, it’s an upside down cake/tart.  They typically use puff pastry instead of cake batter, so the result is a crispy, almost turnover texture with caramelized fruit on the top.  It’s a wonderful way to use up old fruit and to do something really simple in a hurry for guests.  And you should always keep frozen puff pastry on hand.  It’s a freezer staple for me.  You can use it in so many ways from topping little strips with shredded cheese or sausage or peppers for an instant appetizer to using it as a base for a cobbler, strawberry shortcake or whatever you can dream up!

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Bananas Foster Tart Tatin*
serves 8

  • All-purpose flour, for work surface
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large ripe bananas, peeled, halved lengthwise
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 cup creme fraiche, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a 13 1/2-inch square. Using a large skillet as a guide, cut out a 12-inch round. Transfer pastry round to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Make three 1/2-inch slits in center of round; set pastry aside at room temperature.

Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cook, swirling skillet occasionally, until mixture turns medium amber, about 3 minutes.

Arrange bananas in skillet, overlapping slightly. Cook, without stirring, 3 minutes. Drizzle vanilla and rum over bananas, and cook until most of the rum has evaporated and liquid has thickened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place pastry round on top of bananas, and transfer to oven. Bake until pastry is golden brown and puffed, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and carefully invert the tart onto a serving plate. Whisk creme fraiche until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Serve dessert warm or at room temperature with the creme fraiche.

*I didn’t adapt this Martha Stewart recipe at all, except that my tatin pan was 9″ instead of the 12 the recipe calls for.  I didn’t have too many bananas – it worked out perfectly.

Black Plum and Blackberry Galette

black plum galette
I’m in love with this pie.  It’s a galette – a free-form pie that is usually very rustic and can be sweet or savory, or even resemble a thin pancake in some regions of France.  I love it because it eliminates the pressure to make a pretty pie crust.  So many people struggle with pie crust, and when the edges crack, it can make even the most tempered person lose their cool.  But the galette solves all that.  You simply roll out your dough, fill it up and fold the edges over.  If you add an egg wash and some crunchy sugar sprinkled over the dough, no one in the world will care that it isn’t in a pie plate!  We enjoyed plums and a few blackberries in this pie because they were ripe and in season and cheap!  I really don’t buy fruit if it isn’t on sale.  I just figure that sale price tells me what’s in abundance and that’s an easy way to know what’s in season!

I served this over the course of a few days to a few different friends.  I love that one dish can unite so many.  I believe five different friends, total, shared this pie at different times over the weekend.  This is my very favorite thing about cooking and sharing meals.  And yes, a plum galette and a cup of coffee is a meal 🙂 I think people stay longer and open up quicker and are more at ease if you have something to offer them to eat and drink.  I’m not always good about doing this, especially for the most frequent friends.  And how awful to treat the frequent friends less special!  It’s hard for those of us who can’t be trusted with baked goods in the house, to have them in the house during the week.  But, maybe you could consider it a bit of a social challenge for yourself to bake this pie and then see how many different friends you can get to share it with you.  🙂

plum galette

Plum and Blackberry Galette*

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ice water
1/4 cup whole, skin-on almonds, toasted
5 to 6 plums, halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (keep slices together if possible – this was hard for me because my plums were cling and didn’t come away from the pit very easy.  I just sliced them as best I could – still pretty)
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a food processor, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, butter, 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup remaining ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Don’t overmix! Remove dough from processor and shape into a disk; wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour. Meanwhile, wipe bowl of food processor clean and add almonds, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons flour; pulse until ground to a coarse meal.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; sprinkle almond mixture over dough (this is necessary for absorbing the juices from the fruit so your crust won’t be a soggy mess.  Plus, it tastes great.)  With a spatula, transfer plums to dough; press lightly to fan out, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold edge of dough over fruit. Refrigerate 20 minutes (this is so your butter doesn’t leak out). Brush crust with cream (I used an egg); sprinkle galette with 2 tablespoons sugar (I used super crunchy sugar!)  Bake until crust is golden and underside is cooked through, about 70 minutes.

*I made this from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts cookbook, which, is a book I could look at for hours on end, reading it like a novel.  That’s one way to get better at cooking, by the way – read cookbooks like they’re novels 🙂

Basil Lemonade – it’s 107 Degrees, Today

basil lemonade

It’s hot. Really hot.  107F, to be exact.  I was about to post a lovely recipe for a summer corn chowder and then I realized that I certainly don’t want to eat hot soup today and I assume you don’t, either.  You probably don’t even feel like eating much at all.  With heat like this, you need one thing: to stay hydrated so that you don’t have a panic attack and swerve into the cars coming toward you during rush hour.  I’m giving you a stupidly easy recipe, today.  It even involves a mixGASP!  I’ve made this lemonade for several events and at each event, people fawn over it like it’s magical or something.  “How is it sooooo good?”  I really don’t know why basil has such a wonderful effect on lemonade, but it does.  Adds that floral, refreshingly peppery note to it. Gives it a boost and elevates it from boring ol’ lemonade status.  Sure, you could do this without a mix, but I haven’t yet, and so I’m not going to claim that everything I do is from scratch.  So today, I urge you to do as little as possible, as well,  and making this lemonade is right up that “minimal effort” alley.  Enjoy.

Today’s snack time will be little cherry hand pies that Ollie and I made this morning, and this lemonade.  She’s never had lemonade, so we’ll see how it goes.  The hand pies were really easy.  You make the only pie dough that’s worth your time, cut out 3″ rounds, fill with fresh chopped cherries and squeeze shut, crimping with a fork.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes until browned.  And no, our snack times don’t look like this.  They are in the high chair with me flipping through a magazine or doing dishes while Olive smears cherries all over her face in our dimly lit dining room.  But that wouldn’t photograph nicely, now, would it?  🙂

Cherry Hand Pies with Basil Lemonade

Basil Lemonade

Country Time Lemonade mix, filled to the 2 quart line
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, washed
1/4 cup sugar
A little less than 2 quarts of water

Dissolve the lemonade mix into the water in a large pitcher.  Using your hands, crush the basil leaves until the oils are released.  Mix into the lemonade.  Stir in the sugar and lemon juice and mix well.  Let it sit in your fridge until cold – the longer it sits, the more basil-y it gets.  Strain into glasses (no one wants a soggy leaf in their cup) over ice and serve!

Basil Lemonade Drink

Mini Cherry Pies with Brown Sugar Meringue

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I fulfilled a little dream, today.  I baked with my daughter.  And she even wore a mini-apron. In just a few more months, she’ll be able to stand beside me on her stool and really help.  Today, she got to sit on the counter, play with the rolling pin, say, “row, row, row” as she rolled the dough and even properly sneaked little bites of the raw dough to eat.  This girl knows how to live.  And I’m so happy that she’s teaching me how to live mine, all over again.

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I found cherries on sale for $2.97, regularly over $7!  Cherries are in season in May, so I really hope they stay cheap for a few more weeks!  I did a couple things with my purchase.  First, I put a few whole in a jar and covered them with bourbon.

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A great addition to cocktails in a few weeks, I’m sure!  Or a grown up ice cream Sunday.  Or, a merciful substitution for those horrid Maraschino circles of candy that call themselves cherries.

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For my second act, I overcooked a batch of cherry pie filling so much that it resembled bits of dried cherries, resting comfortably in glue.  (I’d left it on the stove to “simmer” while I went to see my friend in the hospital.  Um, don’t ask why I did that.)  Matt rescued my near-break down by going and getting me another pound at 10:00 last night, then helped me pit every last one of them so I could start over.  That’s true love.

So I had a vague vision of what I wanted to do.  I wanted to make mini pies, fill them with tart cherry filling and use a brown sugar meringue that I’ve used before and wanted to make again because it’s close to perfection and is SO SWEET that it can really only be paired with something tart.  So these little devils are a combination of three recipes: Martha Stewart’s hand pie dough, My Baking Addiction’s cherry pie filling and Cindy Pawlcyn’s brown sugar meringue that she uses on her mile high lemon meringue pie at her amazing restaurant, Mustards Grill in Napa Valley (we went! we ate! we went into a food coma!)

The results were pretty great.  I think next time, I’d use my tried and true pie crust recipe and just add lemon zest to it.  Other than that, this recipe is a winner!  Especially for this super hot weekend that reminds us all too well that we live in the desert and it is officially summer.

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Mini Cherry Pies with Brown Sugar Meringue
makes two dozen

For the Crust

3 cups AP flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp lemon zest (this microplane works best!)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup, room temp)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
3 oz. cream cheese at room temp
2 tbs buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and zest.

With an electric mixer on high speed (I used my stand mixer with the paddle attachment), beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add the egg and beat until just combined.  Add cream cheese, buttermilk, and vanilla; beat until well combined.  Add reserved flour mixture, and beat until smooth.  Form dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap and flatten into a disc.  Refrigerate 1 hour, up to overnight or freeze up to 1 month.

Let the dough come up to room temp and then roll out into a circle about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut out 4″ rounds and press them into a standard muffin tin, making sure to patch up any holes that form.  This dough is kind of crackly, so don’t fret.  It patches up pretty easily.  Prick the bottom of each pie with a fork and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Some of the bottoms of the pies will puff up, but when they’ve cooled just press the puffed up centers down a bit before filling.  I wasn’t about to cut 24 parchment rounds and fill each cup with pie weights.  I’m not THAT dedicated to perfection.

For the Filling

5 to 6 cups fresh, pitted cherries
1/2 cup water
2 tbs lemon juice (fresh!)
2/3 cup sugar
4 tbs constarch
1/2 tsp almond extract

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the cherries, water, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the almond extract and cool slightly before using.

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I really love using my copper jam pot – (pardon the iPhone pic) The copper heats up almost instantly, as do the sides, so it cooks jam more evenly.  There are lovely, affordable ones here!

For the Meringue:

3/4 cup egg whites (about 6 large)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Place the brown sugar in a medium, heavy saucepan with high sides (that sugar will boil up and scare the meringue right out of you if you have a small pan), add water to cover, attach a candy thermometer to the pan, and turn the heat on high. When the sugar is at about 240 degrees, start whipping the whites on high speed (they should be foamy and starting to thicken before you add the sugar). When the sugar is at the high soft-ball stage (245 degrees), remove the thermometer from the sugar and, with the mixer still running, carefully avoiding the whip, pour the sugar into the egg whites in a thin stream. When steam starts to come off the whites, add the sugar more quickly. When all sugar has been added, continue whipping until firm but soft peaks form.

Assemble!

Fill each pie shell with the filling.  Then top each with a generous dollop of meringue (you’ll have leftover meringue) and then get a torch and torch those suckers.  I don’t like toasting meringue in my oven because I inevitably scorch them and that makes me feel like a failure and I try to avoid that feeling whenever possible.  It’s all about setting yourself up to succeed in the kitchen that will keep you coming back.

I think these are best served with iced coffee because that’s what you need on a 100 degree day like today!

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Little fingers are very curious 🙂

 

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JOY!

Blackberry Jam Tart – I get pie with a little help from my friends…

Blackberry Jam and Toasted Almond Tart

Blackberry Tart with Cornmeal Crust

This tart was made because I bought three packages of fresh blackberries at 99 cents a pack (usually $3) and after we had some for a snack, I realized they would probably mold by the next day, and I would have wasted them.  So, looking up blackberry recipes on Martha Stewart Living online, I found a wonderful recipe that calls for a cornmeal crust, a jar of jam and some blackberries.  Perfect.  And I JUST happened to have the most perfect jar of blackberry jam in my pantry, made by my friends in Seattle, who have an entire acre, basically, of wild blackberry bushes beside their house.  I think jams and preserves are one of those treats that should be enjoyed in season.  It’s so much more satisfying to get a jar from the literal fruits of someone’s labor, than to just go pick up any ol’ flavor you want at the grocery store.  I think eating this way is another way of naturally limiting one’s sugar intake.  My friend, Brynn’s dad, makes this blackberry hybrid batch of jam each spring/early summer, and sometimes, there’s no fruit and we’re all sad, and sometimes there’s an abundance and I get one, coveted jar.  This stuff is the most amazing jam I’ve ever eaten.  So we wait, excitedly, all year for it.  Tell me that’s not better for the soul than having exactly the flavor you want, any time of the year?  Cook seasonally, bake seasonally, and natural moderation will follow.

My cousin, Kathleen, and her daughter, Hannah, stopped by earlier this week to pick up the disc from a senior session I did for Hannah.  Hannah’s boyfriend was with them, too, and when I asked if they’d like a piece of the berry tart I’d just made that afternoon, this precious boy’s eyes lit up and he just said, “uhhhh.”  All it takes is one in your group to say “yes” for you to feel comfortable to take a piece, as well!  They all stayed and ate and chatted and kept Matt and me company as we started prep for our dinner.  I was in my little piece of heaven.  Just wish it happened more often.  I don’t always have a piece of pie or tart or cookies, but I ALWAYS have coffee.  Always. So stop by any time.  You might get pie, if you’re lucky!

A Piece of Blackberry Jam Tart

Blackberry Tart with Blackberry Jam, Toasted Almonds and a Cornmeal Crust

Blackberry Jam Tart*

For the crust:  (I didn’t have enough butter, so I just halved the recipe. It makes two crusts, anyway, so it worked out!  I’ll post the full, two-crust recipe. This recipe also uses a food processor, which is easier, but you don’t burn as many calories and you have a food processor to clean up. Sometimes I’d rather pull a muscle than have to clean gadgets)

2 cups AP flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Place the flour, cornmeal, salt and sugar in a bowl and whisk until combined.  Add the butter and cut with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse sand.  Add a few tablespoons of water and continue cutting it into the mixture until the dough holds together when pressed between your fingers.  Knead it inside the bowl about 10 times until it all holds together in a ball.  Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap and press into a nice disc.  Refrigerate for at least one hour, up to one day before using.

For the Tart:

AP flour, for surface rolling
half a jar (about one cup) of blackberry jam
12 ounces fresh blackberries (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup toasted, sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out the crust into an 11 inch round (about 1/4 inch thick) on a floured surface.  Press dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 10 inch springform pan.  Trim the edges to come 1 inch up the sides using a paring knife.  Use the trimmings to patch up any thin areas or holes in the crust bottom.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Prick the tart shell all over with a fork.  Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Immediately spread jam into the tart shell, top with blackberries, sprinkle with almonds and bake for 10 minutes more.  Serve warm.

*adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Blackberry Tart

The Battle of the Quiches

Quiche

My friend, Summer, hates quiche.  The very word gives her mock dry heaves.  We’ve all had a traumatic experience with some kind of food; whether it be an ingredient (dill for me, pomegranate juice for Matt) or an entire meal ruined by getting sick later in the evening, it’s hard to come back to good terms with the food after the trauma.  I’m not sure why Summer hates quiche, but according to her, the description she gives is of a “rubbery filling, soggy crust, gross texture” and what comes to mind, for me, is the mini-quiches you find at baby showers the world over, or the frozen pie-sized quiches that could double as semi-wet Frisbees.  Either way, it’s not a huge shock that a lot of people have a bad connotation when they hear the word.

Thomas Keller is here to save the day, once again.

He sees the problem with the American version/view of quiche, as well:

“Why didn’t the French quiche ever really translate to America? American culinary culture embraced it, then trashed it without ever knowing what it was…I think it was a mechanical problem, not having the right tool–a ring mold about two inches high.  When the modern quiche took off here in the 1970s, that wasn’t widely available.  Instead, a pie pan was commonly substituted for the two-inch ring mold.  And then came the premade pie shell.  Who would want to eat quiche made in that? A quiche has to have a specific thickness or you cannot cook it properly: It must be two inches high, in a crust thick enough to remain crisp, and not become soggy, during cooking.  Custard in a pie shell invariably overcooks (if you cooked it slowly enough, the crust would become soggy).” — Thomas Keller, Bouchon Cookbook, page 86

We’ve made Keller’s quiche several times.  The foundation is a good crust and so we go back to the crust I will rely on for the rest of my life – the same crust used in my strawberry pie a few posts ago.  It’s perfect, it flakes, it is sturdy without being tough, and it tastes like butter because that’s the only fat used.  Why look elsewhere?  The key is to completely bake the crust first, with plenty of overhang so that it doesn’t shrink while baking.  And I’m sorry you’ll have to buy a special tool to make it, but a 2 inch ring mold is necessary.  Not expensive and if you want to really make this recipe correctly, you need one.

We decided for this post, that we’d compare a store-bought quiche with Keller’s quiche.  I didn’t buy the most disgusting one I could find, either.  I actually bought probably the best a grocery store has to offer.  An in-house made quiche Florentine (bacon/cheese) baked in a pre-made pie shell (assuming.)  It was set in a metal pie tin with holes poked all in the bottom.  I appreciated that effort, because at least someone is acknowledging that quiche shells go soggy.  Didn’t quite work, though.  Here they are, back to back:

Battle of the Quiches

Store bought on the left, Keller on the right.
You can’t tell much, texture-wise, so I’ll tell you.  And again, I’m fairly impressed with the grocery store made quiche.  It’s about as good as a pre-made, American pie version gets.  However, the crust was really wet and soggy on the bottom. Couldn’t exactly pick it up without it sagging, whereas the Keller quiche’s crust is very crispy and fully cooked on the bottom (you can tell by the color and how it even stands away from the plate a bit.)  The Keller quiche has almost a half inch more custard and the store bought quiche’s crust tasted like sand.  Honestly.  Sand held together by water.  It really wasn’t good.  Now, the store-bought quiche’s filling was fine, taste-wise.  It had bacon – how can that not be at least decent?  (I could imagine a frozen mini-version would find a way) but anyway, it was a good effort, but the crust was awful and it was wet, just like you don’t want it to be.  It also had that over cooked texture – kind of rubbery- that eggs get if cooked too long.  I swear to you, I am not making this up, after a few days and microwaving the leftover Keller quiche, it STILL had a smooth, silky, custard-like texture.  Almost creme brulee texture.  It’s so darn good.

Fun experiment and I would say that if you’re interested in doing something for the sake of the experiment and doing things properly, buy yourself a ring mold and get after it.  And remember – a Keller quiche takes two days.  So if this is for Sunday brunch, start it on Saturday afternoon.

Roquefort and Leek Quiche

I also want to add, for the sake of The Family Meal, that Olive ate on both quiches with  much enthusiasm.  Yes, even those big chunks of Roquefort.  She leaned forward and said, “mmmmm!” to both.  Eggs are awesome.  Oh, and she also said, “Quiche” perfectly.  I think because “quiche” sounds like her version of the word “cheese”.  Whatever works, Ollie.

For the crust:

2 cups AP flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp kosher salt
8 ounces chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ pieces
1/4 cup ice water

Place 1 cup of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Turn the mixer to low and add the butter a small handful at a time.  When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is completely blended with the flour.  Reduce the speed, add the remaining flour, and mix just to combine.  Add the water and mix until incorporated.  The dough will come around the paddle and should feel smooth, not sticky, to the touch.
Remove the dough from the mixer and check to be certain that there are no visible pieces of butter remaining.  Pat the dough into a 7-8″ disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to a day.

Lightly brush the inside of a 9×2″ ring mold with canola oil (or cooking spray works) and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Place the dough on a floured work space and rub all sides with flour.  Roll out the dough into about a 14″ diameter circle.  Lift the dough into the ring, centering it carefully and pressing it gently against the sides and bottom edges of the ring.  Trim any dough that extends more than an inch outside the ring.  Carefully check for crack in your dough and patch any cracks with your trimmed dough (I DIDN’T DO THIS AND OUR QUICHE LEAKED ALL OVER THE PLACE)
Refrigerate your dough for 10 minutes to resolidify your butter (if you don’t do this, the butter will drain out of your dough as it bakes.  Done it; learn from my mistakes)
Line the bottom of your crust with parchment and fill with pie weights (our pie weights are dry beans – a whole pound of them.  We just keep them for use in pies).  Bake shell in a preheated 375F oven for 35-45 minutes, or until the edges of the dough are lightly browned.  Carefully remove the parchment and the weights.  Check the dough for cracks and patch with reserved dough trimmings (DO THIS STEP) Return the shell to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the bottom is rich golden brown.  Remove from oven and let the shell cool completely on the baking sheet.

Basic Quiche Batter

2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
6 large eggs
1 tbs kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg, or 1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg

Combine the milk and cream in a large saucepan over medium heat and heat until a skin begins to form on the surface of the milk.  Remove from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes before continuing.  If you have an immersion blender, add the rest of your ingredients to the saucepan and blend for about a minute to fully aerate the batter and make it light and foamy.  Pour the batter into your quiche shell (which is still on your lined, rimmed baking sheet – this thing inevitably will leak a tish.)
At this point, if you’d like to add ingredients, go for it.  Be creative.  We did his blue cheese and leek version and it was awesome.  You simply add these ingredients (about a cup of each ingredient, chopped fine and cooked properly) to the quiche batter as you’re pouring it into the shell.  Try crumbled, cooked bacon and cheddar cheese, or caramelized onion and grated swiss.  The options are endless.
Bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, or until the top of the quiche is browned and the custard is set when the pan is jiggled.  Remove and let cool to room temp on a cooling rack.  Refrigerate until chilled, at least one day, up to 3 days.  Once the quiche is thoroughly chilled, scrape away the excess crust from the top edge of the quiche.  Set the quiche down and carefully lift off the ring.  Preheat the oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.  Using a serrated knife, carefully cut the quiche into 8 pieces.  Place the pieces on a baking sheet and reheat for 15 minutes, or until hot throughout.  Serve immediately.

Quiche shell

Deep Dish Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie

Yesterday was Pi day, and there’s really no reason to need an excuse to make a pie, but I took the excuse and ran with it.  Spring is creeping in on us.  Warmer days and cool breezes in the evening and there’s this smell in the air that smells like Easter and wet grass and being a kid again, all rolled into one, deep inhale.  I love the longer days and the way the sunlight stretches across the grass until nearly 8 p.m.  On the days when it isn’t blowing 50 mph in this town, and it’s not yet 100+ degrees, it’s nearly sinful to stay inside and miss it.  These perfect days are fleeting.

I had 5 lbs of strawberries on my counter top yesterday and decided to use part of them for a pie.  I knew exactly the two books to consult: Sweety Pies and Bouchon.  Bouchon has the perfect, and I mean PERFECT pie crust recipe.  It’s actually the crust recipe for a deep dish quiche, but I use it for pies and it’s perfect.  It rolls out and stays together so well, you can pick the entire thing up once it’s rolled out and move it like a towel.  It’s flaky and tastes like butter, because that’s all the fat that’s used!  I have gone down the road of lard crusts and half butter/half crisco, and none have held up as well as this recipe.  So, if you’re struggling with your pie crust at this juncture in your life, struggle no more.  As always, Keller, or in this case, his pastry chef, has done the dirty work for us.

For the filling, I consulted the amazing and funny book, Sweety Pies: An Uncommon Collection of Womanish Observations.  Every recipe has a story and a unique woman behind it. I strongly recommend buying this book.  Every pie I’ve tried from it has been wonderful and the stories are hilarious and make you wish you were a Southern woman with a fiercely defended pie recipe to make all your other Southern friends jealous.  To be honest, though, the crust recipes included don’t hold up for me (cracked, crumbled, cried-I’m sure it was my fault), so that is why I use the crust from Bouchon.  Because I hate failing with a recipe that’s supposed to be a comfort.

This pie is more like a cobbler.  The recipe even says to just put the crust on top.  But I’m a crust-gal and it’s my favorite part, especially if it’s a good crust.  The crust recipe makes just enough for a deep dish pie plate plus a little extra.  I used the little extra to cut out hearts for the top.  You’d probably have enough to do a lattice top, or even a thin shell for the top, especially if you didn’t use such a deep pan.  The filling is quite syrupy, so I’d suggest serving it in bowls with vanilla ice cream.

Strawberry Pie 3

Strawberry Pie 4

Strawberry Pie

For the crust:

2 cups AP flour, plus extra for rolling out
1 tsp kosher salt
8 ounces chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ pieces
1/4 cup ice water

Place 1 cup of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Turn the mixer to low and add the butter a small handful at a time.  When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the butter is completely blended with the flour.  Reduce the speed, add the remaining flour, and mix just to combine.  Add the water and mix until incorporated.  The dough will come around the paddle and should feel smooth, not sticky, to the touch.
Remove the dough from the mixer and check to be certain that there are no visible pieces of butter remaining.  Pat the dough into a 7-8″ disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to a day.

For the filling:

3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup AP flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
6 cups hulled and halved, fresh strawberries
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out your pie crust to about a 12″ circle.  Fit into the pie plate and trim off the excess and roll up into a ball and let rest.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and cloves and mix thoroughly.  Add the strawberries and toss gently until well combined.  Let stand for 15 minutes, then toss again and spoon into a 9″ deep dish pie plate.  Dot the filling with the butter.  Roll out the excess of your dough and cut into hearts and arrange on top of the filling.  I folded the edges of my crust over because the filling didn’t come up all the way to the surface of my dish, and connected the edges a bit with the tips of the hearts.  Do what you like – be creative!  Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar if you like!
Place the pie on the center rack of the oven and bake until the pastry is golden – 30-45 minutes.  I tented my pie with foil so that the bottom of my crust would be cooked through but the top wouldn’t burn, and I probably left the pie in there for a total of one hour, the last 20 minutes with it tented.
Let cool completely and serve in bowls with scoops of vanilla ice cream.  Use the juice from the pie as a syrup on your ice cream.  Be happy.

Strawberry Pie 5

That lovely, crunchy sugar is from King Arthur Flour.  I love that company and all the fun things you can get for your baking adventures!

Strawberry Pie 2